Leadership, collaboration and horses featured in Design Thinking Academy workshop

Courtesy / Fred Bueltmann

Courtesy / Fred Bueltmann

Katherine Arnold, Staff Reporter

How do students foster collaboration and work through obstacles or resistance, while also respecting the choice of those they are asking to lead? On Nov. 13, Fred Bueltmann will be tackling this question in “Leadership Lessons from Horse and Human Collaboration.” Starting at 6 p.m., there will be a presentation in the Loosemore Auditorium, and afterwards a workshop in one of the DeVos Center classrooms. 

While the name of the event may give attendees the wrong impression, they don’t need any particular interest in horses to learn what they can teach about teamwork. Hosted by the Design Thinking Academy and sponsored by the Provost’s Office, the event is designed to spark conversation about how we can change our collaboration efforts for the better by examining how horses interact as a herd.

“Fred’s work uses the metaphor of human-horse collaboration to explain a model of how people can work together for good,” said Design Thinking Academy Director David Coffey. “This works well in representing what GVSU is preparing students to embrace through its commitment to a liberal arts education.” 

Bueltmann, also known as the “Beervangelist,” has done much in the way of studying company culture and ideology related to the craft marketplace. He has over twenty years of experience as an executive in the beverage industry at companies like New Holland Brewing Company, and was a past president of the Michigan Brewers Guild. His collaborative expertise is renowned, and he was even invited to speak at TedX Macatawa in 2015 with a presentation called “The Community of Collaboration.” 

“Horses’ natural language of herd dynamics is powerful and inspiring, although historically, it has far too often been disregarded or misunderstood,” Bueltmann said.

The event is open to those of all majors, though those interested in becoming a leader in fields related to business, education or government will find it particularly useful. Each student who attends will leave with a better understanding of what it means to collaborate with a better outlook towards positive methods. Bueltmann said there are three objectives that students will learn by the end of the session: knowledge of human cultures and the natural world, philosophy and literature, and workshop.

“From the first, participants will learn how the ideals and methods in this powerful leadership model provide insight towards subtlety and softness, and contribute to health, well-being and balance; in both horses and humans.” Bueltmann said. “From the second, they will understand the transformative change that takes place when the old-school paradigm of training and leading built on domination and control is abandoned for a philosophy of developing collaboration with willing partners, through invitation and non-violent, positively-visualized dialogue. Through the third participants will learn to support productive change within their professional relationships and outcomes, through applying an enhanced understanding of collaboration into critical situations.” 

This event will be structured as a two-part series, and is LIB 100 approved as well.  The full capacity for the workshop is limited to 40 students, so make sure to reserve a spot at gvsu.edu/designthinking beforehand.